Posted on Friday, April 27, 2018

Moving Back: Advice for Expats on Renting and Buying Property in Yorkshire

There comes a time for most expats when it feels right to move back to the UK, often to be closer to grandchildren or ageing parents, or to put down roots and have a property of their own before retirement.

As one of the leading letting and estate agents in North Yorkshire, FSS is ideally placed to support British expats who are looking to return after living and working abroad. For returning citizens, the prospect of being a first-time buyer after decades as a tenant is daunting, not least because of the complications involved in securing a mortgage on income earned overseas and the lack of knowledge about the best areas to live.

Here is our advice, based on conversations with expats moving back to Yorkshire, which we hope will help others navigate the process.

Finding a new place to call home

Finding the right place to live, where you feel confident enough to put down permanent roots, requires research. Some of that can be done online but nothing beats experiencing the lifestyle of a particular town or village. We recently spoke to one expat couple who hired a narrowboat on their return to England and toured the country looking for the perfect spot. Guess what? They ended up settling in Yorkshire. 

The most practical way to test a place out is to rent for a while. This provides a base from which to explore and an opportunity to live like a local, trying out the shops, bars, restaurants and culture and discovering the countryside and activities available on the doorstep. We can recommend some well positioned rental properties and suggest which ones might consider a rental period of six to twelve months rather than a longer term.

Renting also puts expats in a strong position when it comes to making an offer on a property to buy. Some of the expats we spoke to were specifically looking for a project property to renovate and were planning to stay in rented accommodation after purchasing their home whilst work was being carried out on it. Others are looking for a specific location where homes may not come on the market very often. In these situations, the market can be very competitive and being a first-time buyer in rented accommodation can be a huge benefit when making an offer.

When it comes to finding properties, FSS has been a major player in the North Yorkshire property market for almost 25 years and our knowledge is invaluable to those moving into the area. We have more than 1,000 managed rental properties on our books at any one time and a thriving residential sales department. For those looking for a project to do up themselves, we hold regular property auctions in Harrogate where we have helped buyers find some real gems to transform.

The appeal of Harrogate and North Yorkshire 

Expats tells us that they want a place that is well connected but not too busy. They also want easy access to fine dining, culture and social activities. This may sound like a tall order but the Victorian spa town of Harrogate is one of those places that has it all. The town has its own theatre, two cinemas and numerous clubs and societies. It also has a thriving independent restaurant scene with foodie favourites such as the Orchid, Stuzzi, William and Victoria, The Drum and Monkey, Horto and Norse regularly achieving accolades and awards. 

For fine dining enthusiasts, Yorkshire boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than any other county in England with no fewer than six within easy reach of Harrogate. The Box Tree in Ilkley, the Yorke Arms in Nidderdale, the Pipe and Glass in South Dalton, the Black Swan at Oldstead and the Star Inn at Harome have been joined in recent years by The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds. 

After years spent living an international lifestyle, we recognise that Yorkshire can be a bit of a culture shock. The peace and quiet, rolling countryside, country pubs and friendliness are a huge draw but every now and again the bright lights of the city are bound to beckon. Thankfully, London is just one hour 50 minutes away by train from York, Edinburgh is just over two hours in the opposite direction and the hustle and bustle of Leeds and Manchester are within commuting distance. Did we mention the airports? Manchester is just over an hour away with regular flights to the Middle East, Asia and the USA. For a holiday hop to Europe,  Leeds Bradford airport is only 12 miles from Harrogate. 

Earning a living 

The trend towards flexible and remote working means that many expats are able to continue working for overseas contacts when they return to the UK. Most of North Yorkshire’s villages are now connected to superfast fibre broadband which makes working from home a possibility, even in more remote areas. For those looking to start up their own business, FSS has a large commercial property department with office, retail and other premises available to rent or buy. Our team will be happy to advise on suitable locations and availability. Likewise, for anyone looking to invest in property to generate an income, we have an enormous amount of expertise in this area and are always happy to have a conversation about how and where to invest.

Find out more

If you are an expat looking to move back to the UK and would like to find out more about the Yorkshire property market our team would be happy to help. We can be contacted by email at or by phone on +44 (1423) 501211. Our website is a good source of information, although properties often rent or sell before making it onto the website so it is always worth getting in touch to discuss your requirements. 




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